7 Real Car Chases Way Crazier Than Anything in the Movies
The best part of most action movies, some video games, and a handful of books (once we get around to writing them) is easily the car chase. But too often reality fails to live up to the drama, action, or sheer oddness of fiction, and we as viewers are left kind of disappointed by the real thing. And then other times, reality grabs fiction by the throat and drags it screaming down the highway before hitting a conveniently placed ramp, ramming through a gas tanker, and careening -- airborne and aflame -- into the white house.
Which then explodes.
Real Life Dukes of Hazzard
Here's a quick preview of the voice in your head while watching this video: What is this? Is this even a car chase? It's just a cop driving. Oh, hey - there's the bad guy now. Man, he's really moving is-JESUS CHRIST! DID HE DISINTEGRATE?! What the hell just happened?
This chase took place in and around Dayton, Ohio, just after the driver was been released from court custody. Released, mind you. As in, he wasn't being pursued until he started running...then jumping, then flying, then disassembling. As for the initial arrest that spurred this whole thing: He was apprehended earlier that morning on charges of marijuana and alcohol possession, while sitting in his parked 1985 Pontiac Firebird with a 15 year old girl. The report doesn't state exactly how high on the Matthew McConaughey scale the driver registered at the time, so we're forced to assume it was at least "extremely," if not "dangerously."
Pictured: Severely McConaughey
But these are callous jokes that only serve to mask the real tragedy of the events. The driver of the exploding car was just an 18-year old kid whose only real crime was being a little too awesome.
And possibly some statutory rape.
Still, that's no justification for the horrid loss of life we see on displ- what? He survived? He was hurled from the wreck the moment his Firebird lost its damn mind, decided to channel equal parts Dukes of Hazzard and Back to the Future, and jump-exploded into an overpass? Holy crap! If this kid, with his drug-and-freshman-girl-filled Firebird wasn't already king of his high school before this video -- of him surviving the awesomest, stupidest stunt in the history of video surfaced -- he probably is now. Or at least a close second to the guy who met Robert Pattinson once at a Dairy Queen.
Kid's Car Chases
At first, this chase appears to be a letdown: It's not filled with screeching turns, power jumps and explosions, and it's not weird or terrible enough to be ironically entertaining either. This is, by all accounts, a middling car chase that unfolds by the book: The driver does a modest clip, not too fast, and makes a few ballsy turns, but eventually slips up and gets cornered, then tries to escape on foot.
And that's when you realize he's 7 years old.
Aww, isn't that expression of pure terror when he first opens the door of his stolen vehicle to flee the police officer downright adorable? And then there's that precocious little panicked sprint...into his own garage! That's right: He ran straight to his own home. It's unbearably cute and disturbing, like watching a bunny rabbit kill a man. Police presumably tried to apprehend him when he sought shelter in a couch-cushion-and-sheet fort, but were stopped by the handmade 'No Pigs' sign, drawn in crayon and taped to the carpet before the entrance.
Even more endearing is the child's reason for stealing that car in the first place, then engaging in a high speed chase, and ultimately resisting arrest: He just didn't want to go to church. Plain City, Ohio is probably just counting itself lucky his mom wasn't trying to make him eat green beans; the ensuing slaughter would have been a national tragedy.
Oh, and for the sake of justice and public safety everywhere, let's pray he never hooks up with the 11 year old boy from Marion, South Carolina who also stole a car, and led police on a high speed chase. Eventually, he too was apprehended, his parents were called, and he was released into their custody. Then, when he awoke the next morning, packed his baloney sandwich (crusts cut off,) pocketed his comb switchblade, strapped on his KangaRoos, and stepped out the front door, he immediately stole another car and led police on another high speed chase. Two different cars, two different car chases, and two different arrests. All in under twenty four hours. All before he hit puberty.
When his balls eventually do drop, the Earth itself will wobble on its axis.
The Terminator Car Chase
This is off to a good start: Right off the bat we're dealing with an extremely high speed car chase through the midst of a busy city. The criminal is in a car straight out of the Transporter, and to top it all off, it's in South America. So you know there won't be any of that pansy 'concern for public safety' to slow the pursuing officers down. But oh, dang:
He's stuck already. Oh well.
But just when you're ready to flip away, content with the brief, fleeting moment of excitement, the driver throws his car in reverse and mows down several motorcycle cops at high speed. And that's when you realize it wasn't the criminal's actions that put this chase on the list: Watch that first cop he hits. He's completely smeared off his bike and smashed into a bus by several tons of car... and he doesn't even blink. He doesn't fall, he doesn't call for backup, he doesn't clutch at injuries, he just seamlessly segues from crashing motorcycle to furious revenge sprint - bolting after the car on foot, firing into the windshield like the god damn T-1000.
Poor John Connor doesn't get far after that: His car gets quickly hung up on another SUV that bravely cuts off his escape. The driver of that SUV then hops out to flee, only to be pursued by the other, non-Terminator cops, who've now mistaken him for the criminal! This is only resolved when the fleeing civilian, who's just finished doing their job for them in the first place, has to point the cops aiming their guns at him in the right direction - you know, back toward all those other cops and that car you were just chasing - before they leave him alone. We don't know whose idea it was to partner Robocop from the motorcycle with Chief Wiggum on foot here, but Hollywood needs to give them a call ASAP; we would watch the hell out of that movie.
The Ghost Car Chase
Garden City, NY: The dash cam of this police car is about to show us one of the last great mysteries of the modern age. Something the department still refers to only as "The Ghost Car." Recoil in terror as this video shows police officers pursuing somebody so unconcerned with Earthly consequences that they flaunt the very concept of lanes! Marvel as they spookily begin circling and wavering across the highway... as though it were immaterial! Like the narrator says: He's driving like a man possessed!
Well, either that, or he's drunk.
Regardless of the narrator's overwrought delivery, we're watching a pretty standard car chase. The cops pursue the driver for several minutes, occasionally losing him for minute, but then always catching up eventually. Then suddenly, he weaves wide right, and takes a sharp left...into history.
Because when the cops go to follow his lead, they find only an unbroken fence blocking their way, while far beyond it, the Ghost Car disappears into the distance. Theories vary as to what actually happened here, and each has its problems: Did the car plow through the fence with enough speed to yank the link free from the posts, slipping under it like a doggy door, thus leaving it free to return and only appearing unbroken? If that's the case, the posts would have to have been in front of the link -- on the side nearest the officer's car -- otherwise they couldn't swing free, and the posts themselves would've broken before letting a car through. It also looks like there's a bump and a sharp drop just before the fence. Could the car have gone sailing over the fence, hitting a bump or ad-hoc ramp that the cop just missed? Physics doesn't work that way - there's no way he was going fast enough to clear a fence that height at that distance.
There's no official answer here -- even Snopes isn't getting involved -- and the Garden City PD has stayed coyly silent, presumably feeling like the prettiest belle at the ball from all the attention the internet is giving them. So you're just going to have to wonder: Was it ghosts? Was it a lucky drunk? What actually happened?
As for us, we're going with Option C: Drunk Ghosts.
It's like they say: Alcoholism is forever. Even...beyond the grave!
The Hollywood Car Chase
No matter how exciting, dangerous, or crazy some of these real life car chases might be, there's always a distant disappointment when you start subconsciously comparing them to fiction: Only Bruce Willis gets to ramp cop cars into helicopters. Real life cops have regulations to abide by, and physics to obey, and besides, they've got personal lives to attend to: There's hardly ever enough time to get some practice in down at the Car-launching Helicopter Range. As awesome as they are, there are simply no Hollywood conventions present in any real life car chases: There's no leaning out of the window to fire some gargantuan, clearly not officially sanctioned cannon at the bad guy like Dirty Harry, there's no pulling alongside of him and ramming him off the road like Mad Max, and there's no abandoning your own vehicle to leap up onto your roof, jump across through his window so you can beat the crap out of him and eventually hurl him callously from the still moving vehicle into the street, like in Lethal Weapon.
Well, except for in South Africa, where there is absolutely all of those things:
Sadly, that video cuts out fifteen seconds too soon, right before the officer exits the truck, slips on his sunglasses, and walks slowly away from the completely unprovoked explosion.
The Piggyback Car Chase
Fifteen seconds into this video and it's already the randomest car chase in history: The criminal in question has stolen, of all things, a hot pink semi-truck. There is a man still on the back of said truck, by all appearances "just chillin'," and though almost all of the vehicles tires are blown out, it just doesn't seem to care. It's still speeding along.
And then, over the next ten minutes, even more pressing questions start to arise. We've done our best to answer them:
Q: Who is that man on the back?
A: That's the owner of the truck.
Q: Why has he gone all shirt ninja?
A: The exploded tires are kicking up burning rubber at him from below.
Q: Why is he throwing random objects at the police, who are obviously trying to help him?
A: Because he's having a bad day, and he's an NWA fan.
Q: Okay, but why is he on the phone?
A: Because life doesn't stop just because you're trapped on the back of a nearly out of control tractor trailer in the middle of a high-speed chase, okay? This broken blender isn't going to get a refund for itself, smartass.
"Can you hear me now?"
But the most important unanswered question presented by this video is quite simply: Who steals a hot pink semi-truck? What car-jacker sees a pastel eighteen wheeler, walks up to it, pulls out his gun, yanks out the driver, and tries to make off with it, expecting to get away? We don't know. All we do know is that when this guy gets to prison, he's going to have a lot of time to wonder what he did wrong. Eventually, he's going to request a dictionary from the guard so he can look up the word 'inconspicuous,' -- and boy, is he going to feel dumb.
Stolen Tank Chase
On May 17, 1995, video games officially crossed over into reality, when Shawn Nelson broke into an Army National Guard armory. He looked all about himself, searching for the most valuable piece of equipment he could reasonably steal away with in the night, and instead he laid his eyes on an unattended M60 Patton Tank. His heart soared, guitar riffs sounded inside his head, and he knew -- he just intrinsically understood in the guttural, instinctual, lizard part of his brain -- what must be done. And then this happened:
Every man on this planet understands Nelson's first impulse. Here's a hypothetical scenario: You're alone in a room with a tank. What do you do?
Tank rampage. Obviously.
We get the reaction, but we don't do it, because we have empathy, and respect, and we understand that actions have consequences. In the end, it's just not worth it. No matter how objectively bitchin' it was when he tore that RV apart. Or how fun it looked when he drove right through that van. Or how hilarious it was when he floored it toward that one house, only to stop inches from the window, presumably just to enjoy the expression on the owner-lady's face who heard the commotion and got up -- expecting to see maybe a fire, perhaps a fender bender -- and instead found an eighty ton war machine parked on top of her garden gnomes.
We don't do it because we know that eventually the police would be called, and we know that they would spring into action by ... uh ... by setting up a roadblock? No. By ... firing their pistols? Deploying spike strips? Well, hell, there's not exactly a section in the New Officer's Handbook titled "So They've Gotten Hold of an M60." They can't do much of anything can they?
"Follow him some more!"
No, ultimately we don't do it because we know it can't last forever. And it didn't: Shawn Nelson eventually got the tank stuck on a cement divider, where police managed to finally climb aboard it, open the hatch, and fired on him.
Shawn Nelson died as he lived: Inside a god damn tank in the middle of the San Diego freeway.
For stories that are too crazy to be true (but totally are), check out The 7 Most Insane Things Ever Done to Get Out of Something.